Do you own a cell phone? You’re one step ahead when it comes to surfing the web on the road. Depending on your plan, you can turn your smartphone into a Wi-Fi hotspot through a process called “tethering.” When you turn on the tethering (or personal hotspot) feature on your phone, you can use your phone like a modem to connect other devices to the internet.
Tethering doesn’t deliver enough data for full-time use, so don’t rely on tethering if you want to work remotely in an RV for the summer. But tethering will work well for vacationers or weekend warriors. Using your phone as a mobile hotspot (tethering) can give you enough data to stream Netflix, download books on your tablet, and check email while you’re on the road or camped out.
Every mobile phone provider has different rules and limits for tethering, but most allow a limited amount of tethered data each month (even if you have an unlimited plan). You can connect laptops, gaming devices, and tablets to the internet using either your phone or a standalone mobile hotspot device.
For RV and boat travel in the US, we highly recommend Verizon’s Get More Unlimited plan combined with a mobile hotspot device. This gets you 30 GB of 5G or 4G LTE data—and then unlimited data after 30 GB at 600 Kbps.
But the main reason we recommend Verizon is it has the best nationwide coverage according to two different third-party tests, OpenSignal and RootMetrics. That means you’ll get better coverage all across the country, whether you’re enjoying beaches in Florida or you’re visiting family in Texas. There are still areas without any cell phone service, often within heavily forested or mountainous areas. But getting data through mobile plans is faster and more reliable than most other types of data.
Prefer to travel in international waters? You can still use your cellphone as a Wi-Fi hotspot. Here’s how:
- Make sure your cell phone is unlocked.
- Most cell phones should work internationally on the GSM network—both AT&T and T-Mobile use GSM. So, an unlocked phone from either one should be compatible while you travel.
- Once you arrive in your destination country, buy a prepaid SIM card with data and pop it in.